February has arrived; the month of love, where we take time to celebrate and or commiserate our relationships. Ironically it’s also the period where we realise we’ve let the majority of our new year intentions slip; of which a high proportion relate to improving the quality of our relationships.
So as we move back into our old ways of interacting and being with partners, friends and colleagues, it’s worth considering (again) ‘what do I really want my relationships to look like; how far is that from my reality and what can I do to get there?’
At the end of the day we are social beings, and relationships are good for us. Even if we enjoy the odd indulgence in hibernation and extraction from society, especially in this cold, all the evidence highlights the health benefits of quality relationships to our overall wellbeing.
According to a study from Florida State University, those in committed relationships experience fewer mental health problems, cope better with pain and stress and life for longer (University of Pennsylvania, 2011).
These are big claims and the reality is it’s not simply our home relationships that impact us; in fact with 70% of our time spent in the office, it’s no surprise that the ripple effect from works is even more powerful.
According to Gallup, good work relationships are vital to our career success and overall happiness, with those having a best friend in the office seven times more likely to feel satisfied than the rest of us. On a simple level this makes sense, as when we relate well to colleagues, we respect and value their opinion, listen more effectively and collaborate better for success.
What changes in the office?
According to AAFP, ‘success is the presence of functional work relationships,’ regardless of who your colleagues and clients are. Our approach and attitude to an engagement should be the same whatever the history or context.
This may sound straight forward but the reality is far harder to realise. As Lee Hecht Harrison’s latest leadership research demonstrates, 67 percent of leaders feel pressured to ‘curb emotions’ under the mask of professionalism and behaviour in ways that contradict who they are.
This pattern is not a healthy seed bed for effective working relationship, with unauthentic cultures harbouring confusion for co-workers and exhaustion for those trying to be something they are not.
How can we change the way we work?
Yoke consultancy’s leadership coaching has recently demonstrated 3 key techniques that help leaders make the shift towards healthy work relationships.
Why not have a go yourself……
Understanding who you are
Figuring out and staying committed to your underlying, core personal values is the key to living and leading authentically.
Write down the top 5 values that you aspire to demonstrate throughout all your interactions; then using your last colleague collaboration as an example, write down specific examples about how you brought these values to life. And if you’re struggling, you’ve just highlighted an area where your values currently misalign with reality.
As Yoke’s research shows, self awareness is king. Learning to understand and take responsibility of how your behaviours dictate the quality of your co-worker engagements is critical. As the basics of neuro-linguistic programming highlights, humans are like mirrors and people respond to the behaviours you choose to bring to the table.
As a result in the next meeting you lead, witness your body language, eye contact and use of positive words throughout and watch how your colleagues respond. The reality is you hold a lot of power in how relationships unfold, so use it well and keep practicing!
Use challenging relationships as the greatest teachers
As the author Angelica Montrose states, ‘challenges are an opportunity to test you and rise to the next level in your career.’
We cannot escape the reality that conflict happens in the office. Whether they be minimal agitations or stressful disagreements, these are the real moments to refine and master the art of relationship building. So instead of cultivating a mindset of dread, work hard to develop an outlook of gratitude to difficult experiences and mindfully change the way you relate.
If you want to succeed in building authentic relationships at work, get in touch with Yoke Consultancy to learn more about our powerful coaching programme that will help you thrive!